Opinion: How ‘retailtainment’ is powering LEGO’s success

Following the opening of LEGO’s flagship retail outlet in Barcelona, industry analyst Utku Tansel LLB, MBA, explores why the high street is still an important part of shopping, and how retailers can differentiate their in-store shopping experiences to respond to changing consumer needs.

Online and physical are complementary to each other

LEGO’s first ‘Retailtainment’ flagship store in Europe was recently opened in Spain’s Barcelona. The innovative store celebrates the architectural icon Antoni Gaudí, offering engaging new play and product experiences with many unique local features, including the 3D LEGO model of the Sagrada Família as well as Park Güell.

The move is part of LEGO’s global store expansion strategy which debuted at its New York store, or ‘Retailtainment Center’, back in June. The company’s new shop format is being hailed as a groundbreaking retail innovation offering unique immersive digital and physical shopper experiences.

LEGO’s ‘Retailtainment’ store roll out worldwide as well as its enviable financial results for 2021 confirm that the high street is far from dead, and that channels, online and physical are complementary to each other.

A shift in shopping habits

Consumers are starting to visit bricks-and-mortar locations again while continuing to embrace the convenience of online shopping. This shift in shopping habits is posing unprecedented challenges to retailers to diversify their in-store shopping experiences from what they offer online, engaging consumers in physical locations with social and playful activities to build an in-depth brand/customer relationship.

As I also investigated in my “Foundation of success: What can retailers learn from the LEGO approach?” opinion piece in ToyNews previously, LEGO stores are a great example of retail theatre, with plenty of life-sized models and figurines as well as play stations. Their outlets are seen as a destination in their own right by consumers.

As highlighted in Mintel Trend Experience Is Allmost consumers still value the advantages of shopping in-store, which includes the ability to try products in person and to be helped by customer service associates that are also among the key USPs of LEGO.

Mintel’s Traditional Toys and Games, US, 2020 report showcases that consumers need toys and games to bring more than just fun, and brands can connect with adults by appealing to their need for wellness. It is clear that LEGO definitely got that right during the rather stressful (and gloomy) pandemic period and should continue to recoup the benefits in the short to medium term.

A craving for experiences

COVID-19 and confinement measures have accentuated many consumers’ cravings for experiences and entertainment. In an era where the price can often seem like the deciding factor, a return to experiences may be more welcome than ever.

To combat the stay-at-home-or-stay-online mentality, retailers must all pay heed. They must extend their offer beyond mere retail, and act as a venue, not just a shop. Investments in human resources need to deliver the differentiation of a ‘human touch’ and stores need to avoid ‘showrooming’ through initiatives like redeemable in-store credits and in-store exclusives.

Utku Tansel LLB, MBA, has 18 years of success in driving global thought leadership, project and content management, delivering strategic business intelligence and insight to major international companies. He is a sought-after speaker at global industry events including PlayCon, Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, World Congress of Play and Walmart Global Toy Summit. Utku can be contacted at via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/utku-tansel-llb-mba-98231636 

Opinion | Foundation of success: What can retailers learn from the LEGO approach?

About Tessa Clayton

A former Chief Sub of Red magazine, Tessa Clayton is the Digital Editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. As a freelance journalist she specialised in writing about parenting and family life, and has contributed to a wide variety of publications and websites including Tesco online, Mother & Baby, Livingetc, Junior, Boots Health & Beauty, Practical Parenting and babycentre.co.uk. Get in touch at tessa.clayton@biz-media.co.uk

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